Chapter 3 introduces the Aramaic language, giving its genetic affiliation and cultural-historical context, as well as a brief overview of its various phases and dialectal divisions. It focuses on the eastern dialects, both old and new, as most relevant to the topic of the book. An internal classification of the most diverse branch, the North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic (NENA) dialects is given, in as far as it is possible, and the early textual sources of NENA that are available are outlined. Then some basic information is given about the morphosyntactic typology of Aramaic, covering the root-and-pattern system, argument marking, word order. and nominal morphology. This is intended to facilitate the reader’s comprehension of Aramaic examples and of how the many Aramaic varieties discussed relate to each other historically, genetically, and geographically.
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